John Means is the story today – not the Baltimore Orioles. He became the first Oriole since Jim Palmer in 1969 to throw a no-hitter. (Four different Oriole pitchers shared a no-hitter in 1991.) That‘s pretty select company. Means’ line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K.
Obviously a no-no doesn’t really mean much unless you score some runs. And the Orioles did; DJ Stewart and Ramon Urias would smack RBI-singles in the second inning. I’m theory those two runs would have been enough, but Pat Valaika would smack a solo homer in the seventh, and Trey Mancini added some insurance runs in the eighth with a three-run homer.
The image of John Means sitting alone in the dugout in the later innings isn’t one that Orioles fans will soon forget. Heck, the entire game is one that Orioles fans won’t soon forget. And let’s be frank; this much-maligned franchise and fanbase deserved this moment. It was a long time coming.
And one can’t even begin to imagine what was going through John Means’ head after the birth of his son this past off season, and the death of his father last year. And now this. It had to be a heck of a moment.
For the record, this easily could have been a perfect game. A Seattle hitter (Haggerty) struck out in the third, but the ball rolled away from the catcher. Haggerty took first base and was promptly thrown out stealing. All other things being equal, if not for that play we’re talking about a perfect game.
There were a couple of close calls. In the eighth inning a ball was hit to the warning track, but caught by Austin Hays. In a lot of parks that might have been a home run, which obviously would have broken up the no-hitter. Heck maybe even at Camden Yards. But today’s game was in Seattle – not Oriole Park. So it was an out.
Even the last out…could have been a flair into the outfield. But games such as no-hitters or perfect games always require great defense behind the starting pitcher. And we saw it today. And it won’t be quickly forgotten.
I’ve obviously glossed over the overall game highlights. Because in games like this they’re almost unimportant. ALMOST. But make no mistake that the Mancini three-run homer was huge at the time. It gave the O’s a sizable lead. Which in theory may have allowed them to relax a bit.
But here’s another point; the unwritten codes of baseball dictate no bunting in a no-hitter (after the seventh inning). But what happens in a close game? A 3-0 lead in theory is a save situation.
A smaller lead might have given Seattle an opening to lay down a bunt to break up the no-hitter, and justify it by saying it was a close game. Mancini’s home run took that option away.
As I’ve said, the Orioles and Orioles fans won’t soon forget this game. And I hope that people realize what happened here. Richard Nixon was President the last time a single Oriole pitcher threw a no-hitter. Let that sink in. Let it all sink in. John Means, of the Baltimore Orioles, threw a no-hitter today.